Tumblr, Posterous and Microblogging

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk in the social media and blogging world about micro-blogging platforms and whether they are better than, worse than or good alternatives to traditional blogging platforms. First, a definition…then, a GREAT guest post from Theodora (http://twitter.com/#!/tblanchfield ; http://losingweightinthecity.com/) about how she and others use Tumblr, one of the most popular micro-blogging tools.

Traditional Blogging Platforms:

Used to share longer, text-heavy posts; designed to make it easy to spark community through comments

  • WordPress
  • Blogger
  • TypePad

Micro-blogging Platforms:

Used to share short, media-heavy information; designed to make it easy to share work from others and aggregate it in one place.

  • Twitter/Facebook
  • Tumblr
  • Posterous

Which platform is right for you depends completely on your goals — so when Theodora offered to post her thoughts on Tumblr, I was THRILLED to say yes!


You’ve probably heard of Tumblr, but you may not understand it or you may be wondering what the big deal is. As someone who’s been blogging on Tumblr for nearly two years (and who has more than 7,500 followers), I’m here to explain it to you.

So what is Tumblr? It’s a ridiculously easy way to blog. It requires absolutely zero technical know-how, and you can have a Tumblr blog up and running in 2.5 seconds.

Posting to your blog can be as easy as sending an e-mail with a photo attached from your phone to a special e-mail address that will auto-post it to your blog. Because it’s so easy to post to Tumblr, most posts are pretty short.

People use Tumblr as a way to share cool links, photos and bite-sized snapshots of their lives.

If you’ve heard people talk about Tumblr, you’ve probably heard them talk about how inviting the community aspect of it is. And with more than 11 million blogs, it’s a pretty big community.

But how do you participate in the community? Well, most of the participation happens in the dashboard, where you can compose your posts, follow other blogs and even reblog (think: retweeting) others’ posts.

The dashboard is where you read and interact with others’ posts. In this screenshot, you can see:

  • someone has liked one of my posts
  • thedailywhat has posted something. I can either click on the heart to “like” it, or, if I like it enough, I can hit “reblog,” and it will post to my blog, where I can then add my own comments. This is how things can “go viral” on Tumblr, and also how bloggers interact with each other. Do you see the “reply” button? Replies are Tumblr’s native commenting system, or also something that confuses non-Tumblr users.
  • how many people I’m following (a lot!), and how many posts I’ve “liked” (also a lot!)

Tumblr is a lot of fun because it’s easy to get started and become a part of the community, but it also has its drawbacks.

If you’re reading a Tumblr blog, but you’re not a Tumblr user, it can also be hard to figure out how to comment. Tumblr has its own native commenting system, which only other Tumblr users can comment through. Some, but not all Tumblr blogs, use an additional commenting system called Disqus. It’s not quite as straightforward as WordPress commenting, but it’s pretty easy if you take a minute to give it a try.

If you’re thinking about starting a blog and are overwhelmed by something like WordPress, it’s a great place for you. But if you want more control over the look and function of your blog, Tumblr may not be for you. You need to know a little more HTML and/or CSS to customize the look of it, and there are no widgets or plug-ins on Tumblr. (Because it’s supposed to be easy.)

But if you already have a blog (even on another service), there’s still a place on Tumblr for you. For example, Rachel’s blog is on WordPress, but she uses her Tumblr as a place to share her “real blog” with her Tumblr followers, by posting a photo from her original post and a link back to it, and occasionally reblogging posts from people she’s following.

I will actually be moving my blog off of Tumblr soon onto WordPress, because I’m starting to write longer posts and want the freedom to use all those fancy widgets and plug-ins to customize my blog, but I’ll never abandon my Tumblr community, so come follow me there!


Theodora — thank you so much for your post, and for helping me to understand Tumblr a little better! If you have questions about social media, please let me know on my Ask Me page!

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  1. says

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve been seeing more and more tumblr blogs lately and wondered what the difference was. Very helpful info!

  2. says

    I first started blogging on tumblr last year, and then moved to WordPress about 6 months later, when I wanted more of the traditional blogging format. Tumblr is awesome for those who want to blog quickly, and it really got me into the blogging world. I joke that tumblr was my gateway drug :)

  3. says

    THANKS for this
    it’s all so interesting and intriguing to me as well and I always need yer clarification.

    Im more a writer and a luddite.

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